This week’s Trailblazer is Jen Meyers, CEO of Zelca Ltd, a hub of cannabis innovation with a mission to inspire creation and drive inventiveness in cannabis edibles and creators of the MANNA, THC-infused maple sugar.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
We have always been involved in the industry. As a youth in Toronto, I used weed to help with my ADHD and inspire creativity. It helped me focus and changed how I viewed the world. I hadn’t put too much thought into Canadian Cannabis communities beyond what I had been introduced to through 90’s hip-hop, until I moved out west in 2002 to plant trees. This is where I was first introduced to the BC Bud + the Kootenays with their special cannabis culture. From this point onward our lives were intertwined with the industry.
I spent a decade doing a Bachelor of Fine Art in Glass and traveling for shows, residencies, and teaching. My access to the studio drastically changed when I became a mum, and realized I had to sublimate my primal need to ‘make’, so I made the kitchen my studio to create and share with people I love. The kitchen became my creative space.
In 2015 my Dad got bladder cancer and wanted to try Phoenix Tears. Having 2+ decades in the industry, we had a good idea where to get him quality products. He returned it to me within a week. The dark, dank 1mL syringes of RSO were hard to consume and he didn’t enjoy the format. He was on a restricted diet and asked me to make him an edible he could eat. The 2 sugars on the list were Maple and Honey. I would experiment in my home kitchen at night when the kids were sleeping.
I found myself in a position where I was tasked to create something innovative and mindful for someone I loved. I was inspired. With lots of late-night kitchen sessions and sticky resin, my goal was to make the simplest, most flexible product that could be used in anything.
We landed with MAPLE for the win! Deep rich earthy flavours of the maple pair perfectly with weed – it is a match made in heaven (and, my kitchen).
I made edibles at night and shared them with not only my Dad, but with others that used MANNA (back then was called sug (shug)) for infused dinners or just kept in their pantry.
To be honest, I do love legalization, but back then we were definitely on board with the ‘leave-it-alone-alize it’ approach that allowed us to operate in the before-times. So, when legalization hit, we had to make the ‘shit or get off the pot’ decision.
We crossed over in 2019 and my husband and I built a micro-possessing facility called Zelca Ltd, in Calgary AB. We focus on edible production, packaging and sales of dried flower, pre-rolls, extracts and topicals.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
Being a small team we have limited resources and run very lean. We take any opportunity we have to give MANNA a personal touch and get boots on the ground. There is a lot of noise out there — we focus on being positive and getting our message out – it’s a hustle. Not everyone is who they say they are. We come from the culture and believe in its people. We do what we say and say what we do.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
I would love to connect with my customers and guide them on how to incorporate cannabis into their lifestyle and make healthy responsible consumption choices while navigating daily life. Engaging and encouraging the community to connect and promote cannabis with things such as physical activity and creativity. Consumers need to see other than examples of ‘stoner’ stereotypes that are healthy, productive and uplifting.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
SAMPLE SAMPLE SAMPLE — Me and my husband, boots on the ground, giving the weed to the people! Meeting the people and sharing our story.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Tabitha Fritz, Che Leblanc + Rosebud Cannabis Farms, Diskint Cannabis, Sarah Sunday, GRB, Sweetgrass, Antidote Processing, Weathered Island, Keily Beaudry, Valerie McCulloch, Katie Waterman, George Smitherman, Josh Negal, Woody Nelson, Disciplined Stoners, Tanner Stewart, and Todd Neault to name but a few of the amazing people in the industry.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Speak from the heart. Be mindful who you do business with.
The cannabis community is rich with culture and unique regional histories with many facets. Take a minute to appreciate how legal cannabis came to be and those who fought for legalization who are not represented in today’s market.
Last Updated on August 10, 2023 by ADCANN